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Artisan Bread Update and a Bread Cloche Giveaway!

In all the years of writing this blog, the most popular post ever has been the one I wrote about No-Knead Artisan Bread.  This method, popularized by Zoe Francois and Jeffrey Hertzberg, revolutionized homemade bread baking.  Instead of making up a batch of dough every time you want to bake bread, you make up a large batch of very wet dough and let it do a long, cold fermentation in the refrigerator - no kneading, no fuss. You can store the dough in the fridge for up to two weeks, tear a hunk of dough off and make bread whenever you feel like it. A variation of this method was also developed by Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery. Suddenly, it seemed, everyone was making homemade bread with these methods.  In the five years since I wrote that post, I've learned a few things and tweaked the recipe a little.  I thought it was time to do an update.  

Zoe and Jeffrey's approach is to make a very wet dough, let it rise and then let it sit overnight in the fridge. You then shape a piece of the dough, let it rise and then bake it on a pizza stone in the oven.  They liked to place a cup of water into a pan beneath the rack with the bread, creating a little steam for the crust.  In Jim Lahey's version, a smaller batch of wet dough is worked up and allowed to rise about 18 hours then wrapped in a towel to rise again and baked in a heavy cast iron or ceramic pot.  Both methods are terrific.  I like making up a larger batch of dough so I can keep it in the fridge and just make bread or rolls whenever I want.  I was baking my bread on a pizza stone but then tried Lahey's version of baking it in my Le Creuset pot. I really liked doing it this way and that's how I've been doing it for a while.

Right around the same time as I was thinking I should write an update to my old post, Emerson Creek Pottery sent me a Bread Cloche to try out.  Now, since I was pretty happy with baking my bread in my Le Creuset pot, I was sceptical that baking the bread in this cloche was going to make any difference, but I tried it anyway. What a surprise!  Both my husband and I noticed the difference in the crust.  I'm not sure what exactly is happening here, but I love the result.  The Bread Cloche is my new favorite thing and Emerson Creek Pottery has agreed to give one away to a lucky reader.  If you want a chance to win one of these, just leave a comment at the end of this post and a winner will be selected randomly by Wednesday, June 10th.

(This contest is now closed) Congratulations to Joann Heremma for winning!

I've made hundreds of loaves of this Artisan bread and have changed a couple of things.  For one, I do not do the water in the pan beneath the bread anymore.  I'm pretty sure this led to my oven window eventually cracking and having to be replaced.  The crust was better with the steam but it was okay without it. With the Bread Cloche, though, the crust is so amazing that I don't miss the steam at all.  If you are pretty sure you are never going to buy a Bread Cloche, please go ahead and try the bread in a dutch oven kind of pot.  It does make a big difference. 

Another change is that sometimes I don't bother to slash the top of the loaf. I've found that I still get a pretty good looking loaf, especially in the Bread Cloche.  I am also baking the loaf a little longer - until it is a deeper color than I used to.  The texture of the bread is better and I have less problem with it being gummy. 

This recipe is my version with these changes.  If you haven't tried making homemade bread, you really should - it's hassle free, cheap as can be, and the results are outstanding.  And the Bread Cloche is a big plus - you're going to want one!  Just leave a comment at the end of the post to have a chance to win one! Be sure to include your e-mail so you can be notified if you win. Giveaway ends at midnight, June 9th - A winner will be picked randomly on Wednesday, June 10th. 

(This contest is now closed)


Artisan Homemade Bread

for a printer friendly recipe click here

makes 4 - 5 small loaves (you can also make rolls easily with this bread). 

●  I use a plastic container with a small hole punched in the lid to store the dough. If you don't have one, you can use a very large bowl with plastic wrap and a hole punched in the wrap.  But if you're going to make dough on a regular basis, I would buy a dedicated plastic container. If you want to know the container I use for my dough it's this 21-cup container from Rubbermaid.  I love it because it doesn't take up make space in the fridge and most of the time I keep it in the door of the fridge, where it fits nicely. 

●  This dough is much more easy to work with if you let the dough rise all night, so I highly recommend making your batch of dough the day(s) before you want to use it. The dough actually develops more flavor the longer it sits in the fridge! You can keep the dough in the fridge for 2 weeks.

3 cups room temperature water
1½ Tablespoons instant yeast (instant yeast is awesome - no proofing is needed)
1½ Tablespoons kosher salt
6½ cups flour (I use half Bread Flour and half regular AP flour) 

Place the water in a large bowl and add the yeast and whisk.  Add the salt and whisk. Start adding the flour and blend until all the flour is incorporated (I use my KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook to do this).  Transfer the dough to a plastic container with a small hole punched in the top to allow the gases to escape.  Let rise for about two hours.  I lift the container up and let it drop on the counter to collapse the dough inside. Then just stick it in the fridge all night. 

When you want to bake bread, allow about an hour and half from start to finish. Here is the way I do it: I have divided this whole process into four 20 minute steps.  Place a piece of baking parchment on your counter and tear off the amount of dough that you want. The great thing about this dough is that you can do exactly that - bake a very small loaf of bread or a large one. Shape the dough into a tight ball, placing your thumbs on top of the loaf and pulling them down and under the dough, creating a nice surface tension on the top. Place the dough on the parchment paper and let rise for 20 minutes.  Place your Bread Cloche or a heavy cast iron pot with a lid in your oven and turn the oven to 450° F. to preheat.  Continue to let the bread rise on the counter another 20 minutes.

After the dough has risen, open the oven door and carefully remove the lid from you Cloche or pot. Transfer the bread dough, along with the parchment paper, to the pot and place the lid back on.  Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 20 minutes (this will depend on how large a batch of dough you are making) or just until the bread is a deep golden brown.  Baking the bread until it is a deep color is the key to preventing a gummy interior.

Remove from the oven and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.  Easy!


Giveaway ends at midnight, June 9th - Be sure to include your e-mail so you can be notified if you win - A winner will be picked randomly on Wednesday, June 10th.

(This contest is now closed) 

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Reader Comments (440)

My bread baking skills are a source of jokes and laughter in our house. I've tried about everything, with horrible results (even bought the Artisan Bread Book and a pizza stone). Maybe this cloche might be the answer!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarci

Goodness, this looks wonderful. Can't wait to try it! Great inspiration.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaige C

What an amazing and generous giveaway, I would la la LOVE to win and use this! Thank you for the chance to.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHeather S

I love your blog and all the delicious recipes. I would love to try the cloche for my artisan breads!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered Commentertina

I like the natural crack that forms instead. And this is just in time since I'm just starting to bake again. Have any experience with sourdough. That's my intent. I seem to digest it better. Hope I win!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercynthia

What can I say............BREAD, BREAD, BREAD...........Have made your recipe for Artisan Bread many times and of course loved it...............I simply love my BREAD!

Would love to receive the BREAD CLOCHE..........!!!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDolores

I really enjoyed the post, I plan on teaching myself bread making. This is a good starting point.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLee

I've been making this bread for 2-3 years now and I absolutely enjoy this recipe. It's so easy and the bread always turns out tasty. Although, instead of the pot I've been baking the bread on a stone ware and the crust is just right. Would enjoy trying something new though.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen

I love this recipe and can't wait to try it again.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Love to make bread, not always successful! Would love a cloche! And my family would too!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCandy A

I just purchased their gluten-free version of that book. I look forward to trying a recipe or two as the book itself is gorgeous and very informative. Thanks for the chance to win this cloche!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

I am so excited to try this recipe!! I've tried others and this one seems to be just what I am looking for, thank you!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterYolanda

I love this recipe, make this bread often, would like to bake it in this cloche.

by the way really like your website,always something good and I never really compliment you and I should!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermarie k.

Wow the color on that loaf is gorgeous!! I do the pizza stone method too but have never used a cloche. Would love to try it though!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I want it a really really really lot! :)

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterArlene

Someone just made me a Ciabatta loaf and it was wonderful. Now your post comes through so I think it's a sign that I should try my hand at an Artisan bread recipe. Thank you for sharing your tips and recipe. Of course, I would love trying it with the cloche. Judi

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJudi

I am glad to hear that you do not slash the top of your bread. I always had a terrible time getting a pretty slash. Your bread looks lovely without the slash marks. Thanks for sharing.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

I bought the book "The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff and Zoe. I've made almost all of the different kinds. I like the Master Recipe the best. Nice and crunchy crust. Would love to win the cloche!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPat

Sign me up for a chance to win! I
love making homemade bread and anything to make it even better would be divine!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMelody Carlson

Sign me up for a chance to win!
I love making homemade bread and anything to make it even better would be divine!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMelody Carlson

such a great bread recipe (the original), so I can't wait to try this new one!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterELIZA

I've been making bread using this method for a couple of years now. i usually bake on my pizza stone, but occasionally in my cast iron dutch oven. I'd love to try the cloche.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJan

Great food and great bread make the world go around! ...and a great crust is what makes the bread. Would love to try out the beautifully designed Bread Cloche.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

This is such a great recipe for people who'd love to make artisan bread but don't know where to start. I've baked it using a small cast-iron pot but would like to try using a cloche.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEdie

The bread cloche looks awesome.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I'd like to try this once it cools down again.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAJD

Yum! Thanks for the update to this post. Your original post was how I learned to bake my own bread, and have been using my cast iron dutch oven. I would love to win a cloche and see how that compares!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle

This bread was the first recipe I tried from your wonderful blog. Since the bread was such a hit, I went on to make a plethora of your other recipes which include, but are not limited to: homemade pie crust and berry pie, honeymoon ravioli, ricotta cheese, and various pasta dishes.

After having a string of bad luck with my health, I hope I win this cloche! It would really make my day!

Thank you for having this giveaway.


May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

I am not the greatest bread baker, but would love to improve my skills.
Thanks for all of your recipes and great pictures too….I've learned a lot from your blog.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarcella Duba

My family and I love the artisan breads and it's so easy when there is aleays dough in the fridge. Improving on the baking can only make it better.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSharon H

i'm a b shift wife and thus all bread making concludes with a loaf or three coming out of the oven just as my husband comes home from work right about midnight. i'd love a bread cloche!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterdeborah k.

Such a lovely clay dish for one of my favorite things: freshly baked bread!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChristy

I'm a little uncertain of the amount of dough to tear off. Does it double in size from first smoothing it into a ball to its baked state? More? Less?

Thank you

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJane Gartrell

Love this bread as it is the closest to San Francisco SourDough that I can get in Arkansas (unless one of my children bring some or send some). I love using a clay cooker and I'll bet the Cloche makes fantastic loaves or rolls.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSharen

I love trying new bread recipes and techniques. Haven't tried a cloche yet but would love to experiment with it. My sister told me that I missed my calling and should have been a bread baker. Love to give baked gifts to my family and the most requested gift which I enjoy as well is "bread of the month" gift. If you like to make bread share it with family and friends.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBerta

I have made several batches of the original bread recipe and when I bake the loaves, I share with my family and believe me, they do look forward to baking day. I would love to win the bread cloche and try the updated version of the bread dough. Thank you very much for such a wonderful site and I hope I win the cloche. Thanks again!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPatty Strope

i love making bread this way, and currently use my dutch oven.
however it is SO heavy-
i would love to try this cloche-
thanks for giving us all a chance to have one-

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

I have been collecting all these bread recipes wanting to make my own, got a stand mixer to do the "kneading" for me, and bought organic flours to make it with. I have been so worried though about the whole water in the oven thing, and I can tell just looking at your loaf that this solves that issue completely!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTeri Melton

I haven't made bread in quite awhile. This post reminded me of how much I love making bread and eating homemade bread. I would love to win the bread cloche. Thank you for the motivation and a chance to win!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlicia

Love the smell of baking bread.....

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRose M.

I'm trying to eat healthier, and making my own bread has been a great way to get started. Is there a way to tweak the Artisan Bread recipe to make it gluten-free, or does that call for an entirely different recipe? I've been using a Lodge cast iron cooking pot, but would love to try a cloche. Are there other uses for one besides bread baking? Seems like I've seen other uses, but would need to research it.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDonna K. Emerson

I've been making the No Knead Artisan Bread for awhile and like you have been experimenting. I'm excited to explore the bread cloche method,

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNatalya

I would love to try a cloche! My husband and I bake bread all the time...we haven't bought a loaf of bread in at least a year!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSarah H.P.

I also bake this bread in an enameled cast iron pot with great results. Grazie for all the great posts Elaine. Would love to win the cloche! Good luck everyone!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMaryann S.

I have baked bread for many years and I absolutely love it!
I've never tried using a cloche but I sure would love to. :)
Thank you for all of the great recipes and tips that you share with us!! I'm a huge fan!!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJulie B

Loved the original way and will be trying this way too.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDale

I bake no kneed bread regularly and would use this cloche a lot. My old one looks pretty bad and this one looks easier to use.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterErika Butler

This is a great idea. I love that I can keep the dough and bake it whenever. I'm excited. Thanks for the chance to be in the running for the cloche I'm excited.

May 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSo happy

I am always making bread for 5 people, which usually means that I'm baking all week! I would love to have a new bread toy!

May 29, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterashley lomax

I will have to try this recipe. I make a sourdough with similar steps but haven't broken out the yeast since Adam Levain (yes, I named my starter!) came into my life.

May 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterShelby

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